Dolly Parton, the famous singer and songwriter says, “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.” The siting of one of the newly established Federal Colleges of Education (FCE) in Odugbo, Benue State, confirms the high consideration factor of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari that he cares for the people. This singular act is a mark of honour for the entire Idoma land particularly intended to take the people of Apa and Agatu local government areas from where they are to where they have never been. For long, the people and their lands lie forlorn. As it should be anticipated, the siting of this college is already stimulating some development such as the construction of roads which has been a thing of puzzle in spite of several efforts made by prominent individuals and groups in previous regimes. The roads, currently under construction necessitated by the college which would connect people of the country from various angles, would definitely open up many of the surrounding communities to development. All the sons and daughters of these areas would remain eternally grateful to President Buhari for his approval; the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu for his recommendation, and to their son, Arc. Sunday Echono, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education for doing the needful as one of the key figures in government. It is the way things are done in democracy, bringing the people close to the government. I am strongly of the view that the government relates easily with her subjects through one of their own holding privileged position(s) in the government. That is why in democracy, people hold the government accountable through their representatives – elected or appointed.
There is also a community called Odugbo in Kogi State, I am aware. But the Odugbo (Odugbo-Ochekwu as it is called sometimes) in Apa, Benue State where the current Federal Government has magnanimously situated the college of education (CoE) occupies a very strategic position. It connects towards the South, Opaha, Ewilie, Omogidi, Upu-Olakpoga communities and then Adoka; Adoka is a major town under Otukpo LGA. Adoka is diverse. One can easily enter Kogi State through Ankpa, Enugu State through Otukpo and or to Makurdi through Agagbe, Naka in Gwer West LGA of Benue State. Down north from Odugbo is Ikobi, Odejo to Odugbeho, Ogboju-Agatu, Okokolo, major towns in Agatu LGA. To the west, one can also get to Ugbokpo, headquarters of Apa LGA; communities that line up to Ugbokpo from Odugbo are Edikwu-Ebugodo, Edikwu-Akpali, Edikwu-Kaduna/Ijamu, Edikwu-Gkpogo and then Amuke and Gkpogo. The town is richly blessed with agricultural potential capable of boosting Nigeria’s food security programme.
Odugbo is arguably the heartbeat of Apa having produced prominent serving and retired individuals who have contributed much to the country. The town is replete with many military, police and other security personnel who fought for the survival of this great country. For the record, some of her other illustrious sons include the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Disability Matters, Dr. Samuel Ankeli; the Executive Director of National Water Resources Institute, Kaduna, Prof. Emmanuel Adanu (the Ogbopu of Odugbo), who played briefly for the country in the then Green Eagles; a former Chief Medical Director of the National Eye Centre, Kaduna, Dr. Godwin Adejo; a retired Director of CBN, Mr. Obraimah Ada; Air Commodore Oko Ankeli, and Associate Prof. Ibrahim Usman, with the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi. The list comprises Ichedi Ogbole, a director at the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS); Dr. Adegba Ankeli, a renowned medical director in Makurdi; Edoh Ankala with ECOWAS; and Chief Gabriel Adikwu Ekoko (the Odejo of Odugbo) who retired from NNPC. There is the former chairman, Apa Caretaker Committee, Chief Abu Echo (Akanapa 1 of Odugbo); Chief Peter Ekwyodani (Ondu-Aje of Apa), one of the most revered chiefs of Och’Idoma in Otukpo; many years, Chief Ekwyodani championed the development of the Otukpo market. He already left a legacy.
According to Jim Rohn, “A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better”. Now that the government has given the people the sense of belonging and a place of honour, I do expect these individuals aforementioned to rally round one another to make the desired difference in the lives of the people. To be successful in life is not about the money you make, but the positive things you do to touch people’s lives. When political and socioeconomic pundits and public affairs analysts take a sweep of the entire Benue State in order to understand the level of rejection, neglect and poverty, the people suffered because of poor government presence, we will all agree that for our people, President Buhari is magnanimous and Arc. Echono, Apa’s pride. Echono was Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture; Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, and now permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education. He is the 28th and incumbent National President of the Nigerian Institute of Architects.
Using the mouth of the Imperator of Odugbo, His Royal Highness, Ejila Audu Umoru, I honestly wish to say thank you dear President Muhammadu Buhari and your humble Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu for giving our people hope. This hope will make the people believe that a better future, a better Nigeria is possible.
- Michael is the Head of Press and Public Relations, Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation
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